The Whitesburg City Council voted unanimously at its June meeting to accept a settlement off er from attorneys representing Childers Oil Company for damages the city incurred by problems with contamination of the Kentucky River last year.
Mayor James Wiley Craft told the council the settlement, terms of which were undisclosed, adequately compensates the city for its losses in lab fees and other costs but did not address overtime for city workers. Craft recommended accepting the settlement and reminded the council that in a lawsuit, both sides have to give up a little.
In other business, the council voted to accept the second reading of the city’s operating budget for Fiscal Year 2010-11. The budget calls for expenditures of $1,540,511 and includes $50,000 specifically designated for maintenance of water and sewer lines. Craft told the council that upgrades of city lines will be made to accommodate the new county recreation center and that adequate funding is also in place to extend a six-inch line past the center and on to Solomon Road, which should address water pressure issues for Solomon water customers.
The council also heard a request from Buddy Grubbs and Darrell Henderson of the Letcher County Veterans’ Museum for additional city land on which to expand the museum.
Henderson told the council the museum is bursting at the seams with memorabilia from Letcher County veterans and asked for a portion of the city’s free parking lot on the left bank of the Kentucky River. Mayor Craft asked council members to take a look at the proposed area and said the council will address it at its next meeting.
Henderson told the council the museum is pressed for time because of spending requirements on coal severance tax funds and asked for a decision as soon as possible.
The council also agreed to allow Appalshop to use the free parking lot for craft tents for its annual Seedtime on the Cumberland Celebration of Appalachian arts and culture.
Mark Kidd of Appalshop approached the council with the request and Mayor Craft praised Appalshop for its work. Craft said he believes the city should cooperate equally with Appalshop for the Seedtime Festival and the Mountain Heritage Festival Committee, and praised both for bringing tourists to the county. Craft said the focus on arts and tourism is very important to the future of the city.
In the Mayor’s Report, Craft said he had been approached by the Letcher County Conservation District in regard to exchanging the old KYVA Motor building for a parcel of land near the new Whitesburg wastewater treatment facility. Craft recommended having both pieces of property appraised before making a final decision.
In other council business:
• Chris Caudill of Veolia Water reported that city workers are using a “jetter” belonging to the City of Williamson, W.Va., to flush out sewer lines to alleviate odor problems on Maple Street. Caudill said the city has its own jetter on order and as soon as it is received, it will be used regularly to keep lines flowing and keep odors down.
• Mayor Craft showed the council a design for a plaque naming the pedestrian bridge for council member James Bates. The design calls for a cut stone platform and was approved by the council.
• Craft praised Fire Chief Gary Mullins for his work in getting the city’s ISO rating raised to four. He said the improvement will save city residents between seven and ten percent on their homeowners insurance. Craft said the new rating puts Whitesburg in the top eight percent in the state and the top ten percent nationally. He added that only one city in Kentucky has a rating of one.
• New city stickers are on sale at City Hall and will be required after July 1. Costs are $7.50 for the first vehicle and $5.00 for each additional vehicle.